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Pocket & Planet Friendly Energy-Saving Tips

December 2022 by Sarah Walkley

Image credit: Photo by Arthur Lambillotte on Unsplash

With energy prices soaring, we are all having to be much more conscious of our energy use. Taking control of the way we heat our homes, the way we cook and the appliances we use can quickly and easily cut energy use and associated carbon emissions, protecting our pockets and the planet in the process.

Staying warm while keeping green

One-degree thermostat challenge

With the UK recently experiencing a cold snap, you might be tempted to turn the thermostat up in your home. The Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis has advised people against this and has even set a challenge for households to turn their heating down by one degree.

Lowering the temperature on the thermostat by just 1°C can save as much as 1,530kWh of energy, according to Georgina Wilson-Powell’s Is it really green? Everyday eco-dilemmas answered (2021). That represents a saving of at least £150, based on the UK Government’s energy price cap, but could be as much as £400, according to some estimates. Wilson-Powell suggests it would also result in lowering the average household’s emissions by 350kg of CO2 – roughly equivalent to driving a petrol car from London to Porto, Portugal.

Heat on a room-by-room basis

Further savings – potentially up to 5% of the energy used for heating – could be achieved by only heating the parts of the house that you are using at any point in time. Thermostatic valves on radiators, or smart heating systems like Hive or Nest, allow you to turn off the heating in certain parts of the house.

Creative cookery

The potential for energy saving does not stop with heating your home. What and how you cook is also important, though the trade-off between cost and environmental benefit is more complicated.

The best oven

The greenest ovens are fan assisted, using around 20% of the energy of a traditional oven, because they heat up more quickly, according to Wilson-Powell. However, research by Delicious Magazine suggests that running an electric oven for 1 hour is more than twice the price of a gas oven – £1.03 v. £0.46.

Wilson-Powell suggests that induction hobs use far less energy to cook the same amount of food as an electric or gas hob – 0.5kWh, 0.7kWh and 0.9kWh respectively. But, using a gas hob for 20 minutes works out at about £0.07, compared with £0.25 for an electric one.

The meal and method

A quicker short-term fix is to rethink what and how you are cooking. Meals cooked using the minimum number of pans saves energy – and washing up! Meanwhile, preparing a stew in a slow cooker could cost as little as £0.32, despite it being on for 6 hours. Research by energy company Hometree indicates that a slow cooker uses 0.16kWh per hour – less than a tenth of the energy of a typical electric hob. That saves 1.3kg CO2e, or emissions to driving 3 miles.

Optimising appliance use

Many other small changes, particularly in appliance use, can help to save energy, including:

  • Swapping from traditional to LED light bulbs – estimated to save £3-4 per bulb per year.
  • Washing clothes less frequently, at a lower temperature and only running the washing machine when full. Wilson-Powell suggests that between 75-90% of the energy a washing machine uses is to heat the water, so lowering the temperature will reduce energy consumption.
  • Swapping from using the tumble dryer to drying clothes on a drying rack or airer.
    Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
  • Check that your fridge and freezer are set to the correct standard, typically 5°C for a fridge and -18°C for a freezer – too cold and you use more energy than you need, too hot and you risk food spoiling and being wasted.
  • Cut your shower time and, if you add a lot of cold water to get your shower to a comfortable temperature, check what temperature you have your boiler set to. You may be heating the water more than you need.
  • Switch off any devices that you can.

The table below gives you a rough indication of the energy use of different appliances.

Appliance kWh (1) Approx. emissions per kWh
(kg CO2)
Cost per hour (2)
Tumble dryer (3,000 watts) 3.00 2.127 £1.02
Oven (2,000W) 2.00 1.418 68p
Kettle (1,800W) 1.80 1.276 61p
Electric hob (1,700W) 1.70 1.205 58p
Vacuum cleaner (1,400W) 1.40 0.993 48p
Dishwasher (1,200W) 1.20 0.851 41p
Microwave (1,200W) 1.20 0.851 41p
Toaster (1,200W) 1.20 0.851 41p
Iron (1,100W) 1.10 0.780 37p
Air fryer (1,000W) 1.00 0.709 34p
Washer (700W) 0.70 0.496 24p
Electric clothes airer (250W) 0.25 0.177 8.5p
Slow cooker (225W) 0.23 0.163 8p
PlayStation 5 (201W) 0.20 0.142 7p
Electric blanket (100W) 0.10 0.071 3.4p
Sky Q box (45W) 0.05 0.035 1.5p
TV (30W) 0.03 0.021 1.02p
Fridge (28W) 0.03 0.021 0.95p
BT Hub (12W) 0.01 0.007 0.41p
Light bulb (10W) 0.01 0.007 0.34p
Sky Q box (standby) (9W) 0.01 0.007 0.31p
Microwave (standby) (7W) 0.007 0.005 0.24p
Phone charger (5W) 0.005 0.004 0.17p

(1) kWh (kilowatt hours) are the units used to measure how much power is used by an appliance. It works out as the watt power of an appliance divided by 1,000 (when used for one hour). (2) Prices based on 1 October 2022 price guarantee rate of 34p/kWh.

Source: Money Saving Expert/ US Environmental Protection Agency

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